I would venture to guess that about half, or maybe more of the US
readers of Orchid posts use propane as fuel for their torches. ALL
tanks now sold in the US have a very prominent warning “DO NOT USE
OR STORE CYLINDER INSIDE A BUILDING, GARAGE OR ENCLOSED AREA”!
A 20lb, (approx. 5 gal.) propane tank that leaks inside a closed
building is capable of destroying something the size of a small
house. These are the tanks normally used for RV’s and home
barbecues. Basement storage is the worst place to keep one! Even the
little 4lb tanks can take out a room.
If you are using propane, keep the tank OUTSIDE your building. Have
a licensed plumber install a gas line with proper permits and
inspection. Where we live, outside the city limits, (in San Joaquin
County, California) most houses are plumbed for propane heating and
cooking. This makes it easy to add a line for shop use.
An insurance company will not pay out on claims where the owner of
the property clearly ignores the warning on the propane tank. If you
can read – you have NO excuse! I have an acquaintance who recently
lost his house this way. The insurance company refused to pay a
dime, saying that he contributed to the destruction of his home by
storing the fuel tank inside the house…
Use flashback arrestors. They are cheaper than new gauges. ( I do
not understand the previous posts that seem to advocate creating a
flashback on purpose by shutting off the fuel first, and then the
oxygen… Whether the “manual” says so or not – this is wrong!)
Buy a gas leak detector and install it, you only have to plug it
into an outlet and place it underneath your soldering bench. Frei
Borel and Stuller both stock them. DON’T get yourself reincarnated
any earlier than your destiny mandates by flipping a light switch!
The warning from the detector can save you or someone you love.
Use the “T” grade hoses made for use with propane - NOT the common
hoses rated for acetylene.
DON’T use butane cigarette lighters or matches anywhere on your
soldering bench, use welders strikers or the new electronic
Shut down the entire system at the end of every day. My setup has
three separate cutoffs, at the tanks, at the manifold where the
lines go into the building, and at each soldering position where the
hoses connect into the main line. After the shut down bleed the
hoses. Back off your regulator screw.
Check for leaks anywhere along the entire line at regular intervals.
I do this after every six week workshop, before beginning the next
Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
2207 Lucile Ave.
Stockton, CA 95209